Before I start paying more attention to Spring football, I want to take one more look at the NCAA basketball tourney.
Biggest Surprise: You can say it is Richmond, with their advancing to the Sweet 16, but I am going with VCU. They played three games last week, and got stronger each game. Shaka Smart is quite the coach and he is a hell of a game planner. VCU only has one player that would start at any of the Big East schools in the tourney, yet his team is way more than the sum of the individual players.
Biggest Flop: Tennessee. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying watching the continuing saga of the most persecuted Jewish man in Knoxville. First Mike Hamilton openly speculated about Pearl's job status the day before the tournament began. Then the team dropped the biggest steaming pile of crap on the court in Charlotte I have ever seen in tournament play. It was so bad, I look for future tournament selection committees to seriously evaluate any team who falls apart as the season goes on. Call it the Tennessee criterion.
Dead to Me: Big East. A week ago, there was discussion about the possibility of three or more Big East teams in the final four. Now, there are only two in the Sweet 16, after 11 made the tourney. The Big East might be the toughest conference out there, but unless you can perform in the post season, you will open yourself to much ridicule. Ask Big10 football.
Cutchest Player: Matt Howard, Butler. Yeah, I am biased here. But. Damn. The kid hits a put back, releasing the ball with .1 on the clock in the 2nd round match up, then coolly hits a game winning free throw with .8 seconds left to beat the team I thought would be in the national championship game. All that while scoring a pedestrian 15 and 16 points in the two games. I thought the Dogs would be done by now, but apparently, that nice Stevens boy has some more tricks up his sleeve.
Most not Clutchest Player: Tu Holloway. Holloway looked incredible in the regular season, putting up strong numbers (19ppg, 42+%fg, 34+%3pt, 5/3 assist to TO ratio). Against Marquette, he had 5 points, 1-8 fg/1-5 3pt, 5/5 Assists to TO ratio. Marquette dared Xavier to beat them without Holloway and the Muskateers folded.
Most Surprising Major Conference Team: Florida State. Hey, I thought they were over seeded. What do I know? Nice performance in both games gets the Seminoles to the Sweet 16. This team has come a long, long way from a home loss to Auburn.
Most Entertaining Impact Player: Jimmer Fredette. Wow, that kid is funky. He has a shooting motion like Kent Tukelve has a pitching motion. All over the place, but the ball somehow ends up in the right place. Will being funky get you kicked out of BYU?
Least Entertaining Impact Player: Kendall Marshall. The UNC guard is the best player you've never heard of on a major team. He only scores 6ppg, but has 215 assists on the season. He has 10 and 14 respectively in the two games Carolina have played this tournament. Add in his 16 points, and he has had a hand in over 35% of all of Carolina's points. He takes a back seat to guys like Zeller, Barnes and Strickland, but he is the timing chain that drives UNCs offensive engine.